A Lebanese-made dystopian Arab-language animated thriller titled Alephia 2053 is striking a chord with local audiences with its all-too familiar storyline of a brave uprising against autocratic rule.
Released recently onto YouTube, the film has passed the eight million viewer mark, and while it comes a decade after the Arab Spring uprising it has also benefited from the growing power of entertainment streaming platforms.
The film’s Lebanese creator and executive producer Rabih Sweidan has been quoted as saying that it is “a fictional movie but it is based on reality. It is a description of social reality…proof that the movie reflects people’s thoughts.
“There is always a tendency in the Arab world to imagine what might have happened in the past, but there is no theatrical or cinematic work that imagines what the Arab world will be like in the future," he added.
The hour-long film is set in the fictional Arab state of Alephia in 2053 as a bold group of undercover operatives aim to topple hereditary leader Alaa ibn Ismail and his tyrannical regime by infiltrating the ruling ranks.
The scheme is boosted by angry crowds who take to the streets chanting the now-famous Arab Spring refrain "the people demand the fall of the regime" as they face up to heavily armed security forces.
The film is produced by Lebanon’s Spring Entertainment Company, with the animation, directed and illustrated by Jorj Abou Mhaya. Rabih Sweidan added:” More than 70% of the work took place in Lebanon and was done by Lebanese,” though the film received backing from Malil’Art animation studio in Angouleme, France.
Lebanese cinema critic Elias Doummar has described it as “a milestone in Arab animation. It portrays Arab reality and its audience just keeps on growing.”